Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.Foster City, Calif.PlayStation2

When Sony recently announced the successor to its original PlayStation, analysts speculated that its extraordinarily capable technology might be applicable to more than the PlayStation2. After all, the next-generation update has at its heart a full 128-bit CPU with data-processing capabilities far exceeding those of today's state-of-the-art PCs, including a rendering processor that has greater performance than that of the highest-level graphics workstations. With a floating-point calculation performance of 6.2 GFLOPS/sec, the overall calculation performance of the CPU matches that of a supercomputer, says Sony. For the game, the result is a new type of computer entertainment experience. For example, the hair and clothing of a character can be affected by a digital wind calculated and processed in real time. Other examples include the dynamic simulation of real-world physical attributes such as gravity, friction, mass, and the accurate simulation of different materials such as water, wood, metal, and gas. This will change the future of computer entertainment forever, says Sony. It actually could do far more -- as it represents the most significant break- through in computer-graphics technology in the last five years, says Richard Doherty, director of research at the Envisioneering Group Inc., Seaford, N.Y. In Japan, where the system is set to debut on Mar. 4, 2000, 89 publishers have signed license agreements to develop content for PlayStation2. Additionally, 46 North American companies and 27 European companies have signed letters of intent in preparation for the overseas launch in the fall of 2000. In September, Sony announced it will establish PlayStation2 as a platform for Internet-based electronic distribution of digital content in 2001. "PlayStation2 is charting a path toward the future of networked digital entertainment," says Ken Kutaragi, president and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment. John Teresko, John Sheridan, Tim Stevens, Doug Bartholomew, Patricia Panchak, Tonya Vinas, Samuel Greengard, Kristin Ohlson, and Barbara Schmitz contributed to this article.

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